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The Great Indoors: Unusual ingredients take the cake

While pork and beans are an unusual ingredient, the cake tastes similar to spice cake. The Forum2 / 3
Tracy Briggs3 / 3

Pork and beans are a staple at any outdoor barbecue, but who knew you could make cake out of it? And more importantly, why would you want to? But Amie Jean Dexter says it’s worth a try.

I ran into Dexter at a Trinity Lutheran Church salad and pie luncheon awhile back. We were talking about some of the recipes we’ve had on “The Great Indoors” when she mentioned that I should try a really interesting recipe she found for Pork and Beans Bars.

Interesting? Well, yes, that’s a good word for it. At the time “nauseating” also came to mind. But she insisted I don’t judge a book (or perhaps can) by its cover. She agreed to share the recipe with me and I’ve boldly decided to try it.

In addition to the pork and beans, the bars also call for crushed pineapple, another unusual item, but the rest of the ingredients were pretty standard fare: flour, sugar, cinnamon, etc. I was reassured when I saw they were topped with cream cheese frosting. You could put cream cheese frosting on a snow boot and it would taste good.

The recipe couldn’t have been much easier. When it came out of the oven, the biggest surprise wasn’t the taste (I’ll get to that in a minute). It was that these weren’t really “bars” at all. It came out much more like a cake. To see what I thought of my first bite of cake, be sure to watch our video. But I’ll give you a hint, it tasted a lot like a very moist spice cake.

I took Dexter’s advice and didn’t tell my family about the cake’s unusual ingredients. Good thing. They all liked it. But when I told them about the pork and beans, I noticed the only one going back for seconds was my husband.

Despite the moistness and flavor, I think the girls just couldn’t get over the whole pork-and-bean thing. I completely understand. I sort of felt the same way.

While I might not make this a regular cake in my rotation, I like the fact that it uses ingredients many of us already have on hand.

So, if you need a quick dessert and don’t know what to do, this is an acceptable alternative to a regular spice cake. Just keep mum on you know what.

Pork and Beans Cake


2 cups sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

1 can (15 oz.) pork and beans

8 oz. crushed pineapple

Frosting Ingredients

8 oz. cream cheese

2 tsp. vanilla extract

½ cup butter

3 cups confectioner’s sugar


Start by putting a can of pork and beans and a cup of undrained crushed pineapple in the blender. (Just make sure to remove that big glob of pork that is usually found in the can). Blend the beans and pineapple until smooth. Combine the mixture with the rest of the cake ingredients and mix well.

Pour into a 9-by-13 inch pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 40 minutes or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cake cool for 25 minutes. Mix frosting ingredients and spread on the cooled cake.

Watch ‘The Great Indoors’ with Tracy Briggs every Thursday on

Tracy Briggs

‘The Great Indoors’ with Tracy Briggs appears every Thursday in The Forum. For more information go to her blog at